President Donald Trump, who seems to crave chaos, created quite a bit of it beginning Friday night when he disparaged NFL players who protest during the playing of the national anthem before games, calling one (we assume Colin Kaepernick) a “son of a bitch” and also decried 15-yard penalties for unnecessary roughness meant to protect the health of players.
Then on Saturday morning, he took a classic scorned-by-the-pretty-girl swipe at Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, who said he would not attend a White House ceremony to commemorate the team’s NBA championship earlier this year; Trump rescinded the invitation via Twitter.
So Saturday has seen a flood of social media messages from athletes in both the NBA and NFL, who have taken umbrage with the callous words Trump used on Friday night (and then again in tweets on Saturday, when he doubled down) and his stance toward Curry.
But the day has also seen seven, as of this posting, NFL owners and team presidents from six teams stand up for their players: John Mara and Steve Tisch of the New York Giants, Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins, Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, Mark Murphy of the Green Bay Packers, Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, and Amy Adams Strunk of the Tennessee TItans.
Mara and Tisch were first to release a statement.
“Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive, and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society,” it read.
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Ross, who last year founded the anti-racism RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality) program, has been publicly supportive of Dolphins players who protest, and his statement reflected that.
“Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness,” it said. “We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other. Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality.”
The 49ers were publicly supportive of Kaepernick last year during his protest, and at the end of the season, players voted to award Kaepernick with their highest team honor; York has also spoken out in other situations. His words were arguably among the strongest.
“The callous and offensive remarks made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice,” York posted on his personal Twitter account. “We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together.”
The statement credited to Blank read in part, “creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy.”
Murphy expressed support for Green Bay players “who choose to peacefully express themselves” and ended with, “As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”
And Adams Strunk ended with a pointed remark as well, noting that, “Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
Currently, none of the eight owners who are known to have donated $1 million each to Trump’s inauguration – Robert Kraft of the Patriots, Woody Johnson of the Jets (who was Trump’s appointee as ambassador to the United Kingdom), Ed Glazer of Tampa Bay, Shahid Khan of the Jaguars, Stan Kroenke of the Rams, Bob McNair of the Texans, the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones or Washington’s Daniel Snyder – have released statements, though obviously they are not alone, as there are 18 others who also have not weighed in.